No sooner did I write about not being able to stay up for an entire Leafs game on the west coast than did our 2008 Round the Clock Slo-Pitch schedule get posted. One of our games is at 5am.
That's right, our third game is scheduled at the diamond formerly known as SkyDome for 5am on Sunday morning. I don't know if that means I'll be up really late or waking up really early. With the Leafs playing at 10pm, things might work out nicely. I can watch the game, pretend I'm ten years younger and hit the clubs and then play ball at 5. Then, I can stumble home and hit the hay.
Unless we make the playoffs. That could ruin everything.
The 2008 'Round the Clock Coed Slo-Pitch Tournament takes place at SkyDome in January. For those only born in the past few years, the SkyDome is that ball park downtown officially named the Rogers Centre. Call it whatever you want, I'm just psyched about playing there.
That's right, my championship winning slo-pitch team, Raging Storm, has been entered to compete. I don't believe I've ever played ball in January, so this should be fun. I know I've never played ball at SkyDome, and that will be very cool.
Another member of the team filled out the registration papers and he didn't enter us under our usual moniker. For this tournament, we'll be Boonie's Angels. Another dream come true...
Last night, I attended our slo-pitch league's annual banquet. My team, Raging Storm, plays in the RSPA and I joined five teammates in representing the division one champs.
Here's a little recap of the event, which included lots of music, drink, dinner and awards at the Westwood Banquet Hall in good 'ol Rexdale.
A Brief History Lesson
The RSPA is an Etobicoke / Mississauga slo-pitch league with several divisions for recreational ball and intermediate ball, and one division for the best of the best they call Competitive. The teams are placed in divisions according to their on-field ability. In Intermediate, for example, there are several divisions, with Int-1 being the best of the teams not in Comp and then there's Int-2, Int-3, etc. We just won Int-1, making us the best team not in the single Competitive division.
The RSPA has gotten so big, there are now two nights for this annual banquet. The weaker divisions were supposed to attend last night and the higher divisions were to attend next Saturday. We got an exception and attended last night with the less talented teams.
We all agreed to show up at 8pm, just before dinner. I joked I'd be there at 7:53, and that's exactly when I showed up. A half hour later I was still the only person at the Raging Storm table, nursing my cranberry juice and listening to AC~DC's "Back in Black" blaring out of the speakers. It was just like the high school dances I attended!
I gave that little history lesson so you had some perspective. We were by far the best division champion in attendance, so when it was time to acknowledge the champions and distribute the awards, we were called first. Marc and I were actually scoring some pastries when they announced the Int-1 champion Raging Storm, but nobody could miss what happened next. The entire hall booed us. They booed us heavily, even though we had never played a team there.
You may assume, as we did, that every divisional champion would be booed. This didn't happen. All other divisional champs were cheered. Why did they boo us? Did our reputation precede us? Was it because we were announced as champions of the strongest Intermediate division?
At one point, with people hitting the dance floor, I decided to build a tower. I got cocky, and introduced a platter to the tower, and the tower fell, knocking a full glass of cranberry juice onto Jordy's lap.
It was perfect.
As predicted, they gave us sweaters. This was our grand prize for winning the division. They're nice sweaters, but they're sweaters.
Oh yeah, they also bumped us up to the esteemed Comp division, which may be more of a curse than a blessing. Still, I'd rather go 0-16 in the toughest division than 16-0 in the 2nd toughest division. It was a great year, and even the cheesy banquet didn't totally suck. Here's the obligatory photoset.
Shower me with your love. Tonight, we of Raging Storm, RSPA Int-1 division champions, will be recognized for our outstanding achievement at the league banquet. I normally don't attend these things, but this year I'm going. We're champions, dammit!
The award itself will likely be a sweater or something craptacular like that, and the open bar is completely wasted on a teetotaler like me, but I want to be lauded. Who doesn't enjoy a good lauding?
I'll snap a few pictures and report back here tomorrow.
We did it. We swept the S&M Flyers tonight to win our division and that means we'll be playing comp next season. I've played on this slo-pitch team for the better part of a decade and we've never tasted success like this.
Both games were wickedly close. We eked out a 9-8 win in extra innings in game one and then, in game two, I was at the plate with two on in the bottom of the last inning and down by a run. All I could think about strolling to the plate was Joe Carter and his walk-off homer to win the series in '93. I laced the second pitch I saw into centre field, scoring two and giving us a 14-13 win and the championship.
As boring as this is for everyone not on Raging Storm, I've got to get this all down while the euphoria still wafts in the night air. Everything I've written about this team I've meant. It was a controversial regular season and our worst record in years, but I've played on no finer a ball team. We always came back when it mattered. In game two tonight, we were down by seven and easily could have mailed it in and hoped for better in game three. Instead, our defense shut the Flyers down and our bats chipped away at the stone.
Finally, I want to thank my teammates. I had never played the role of Cito before, and I couldn't have asked for a better conclusion to the season. This was awesome and I'm damn proud. Kids, you deserve it.
Raging Storm, 2007 Int-1 Divisional Champions:
His name is Laurence Tureaud, but you know him best as Mr. T. The world was first introduced to Mr. T in the guise of James "Clubber" Lang in Rocky III and next as Sgt. "B. A." Baracus on The A Team. Last week, he inspired my slo-pitch team and uttered four words that propelled us to a semi-final victory and a berth in the finals.
Tonight is that final best-of-three as we take on the S&M Flyers in an epic battle for RSPA supremacy. We faced the S&M Flyers three times during the regular season, losing twice and tying them once. As the fourth seed in the division, we're the underdogs, and that's just the way we like it.
You see, Mr. T was an underdog, too. He grew up in the Chicago projects, the youngest boy of thirteen children. Through a killer blend of determination, grit, strength, smarts and a mohawk, Mr. T won our hearts and had us all saying "I pity the fool". If Mr. T could rise like a phoenix to become top dog, so can Raging Storm. Scratch that... so will Raging Storm.
As Mr. T once said:
I told you this was the best team we ever fielded. With only the S&M Flyers in our path of destiny, we could... go... all... the... way.
I love winning. It's so much better than losing.
In about 24 hours I'll be preparing for the third game in our best of three slo-pitch semi-final series against RobArts Rage. This is a season I wish could keep going. I think our 2007 campaign, well documented here, is our most fun season to date.
I've never liked the nickname "Raging Storm". Earlier this year, we agreed to change it and bring in new uniforms. We even held a vote with "In The Face" winning out. As much as I dislike Raging Storm and our boring blue jerseys, it's our name and our brand. We're Raging Storm, for better or for worse, and I can't see this same group coming back next season with any other moniker. I'm even looking forward to coming back to this same crappy league in those same ratty uniforms.
If we win tomorrow night, we extend the season one more week, and that's incentive enough to kick some ass. I'll leave the final word to Mr. T.
Before the raging storm, we managed to finish game one. We were down early and clawed our way back before giving it up again. Two 8-run innings did us in and we lost 18-15. By the end of this disappointing loss, the rain was falling and it was falling hard.
It felt like more of a typhoon than a rainfall. The rain was blowing down sideways and felt like hail and the sky was full of lightning. The ump called a rain delay but ordered us to stay at the park. We were going to wait this out.
We anxiously waited soaked and cold and the rain eventually did subside allowing us to play game two. We owned game two. Leading wire to wire, we weren't about to end this season. We won 9-3 to tie the series at one but at a park where the lights automatically turn off at 11pm, there was no time for game three. Game three would have to wait.
It all comes down to this. One game to decide who faces the S&M Flyers in the finals with an opportunity to move up to the comp division. We don't have a date yet, but we know our destiny. We have to finish this.
Everybody's talking about the Kanye West showdown with 50 Cent on September 11. Everybody should be talking about another grudge match that promises to deliver all the drama you can stomach. We in Raging Storm have a semi-final series against RobArts Rage, that same RobArts Rage that went headhunting in late June.
That entry will take you back to that June 18 double header, but in a nutshell here's what transpired. A member of RobArts Rage took exception to Kic's cheers and drilled a ball into Kic's back. Our bench emptied, this RobArts Rage delinquent was kicked out of the game and eventually suspended for a few games, and I've been secretly hoping ever since that we'd run into these guys in the playoffs. On Tuesday night, I get my wish.
We want this one. It's a semi-final series, so we didn't need another reason to get up for these games, but we've got one. What rhymes with bass pickin'?
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